The hanger was a bee hive of activity. After their rescue flights, all the ships that were involved were checked out from top to bottom. Even her shuttle was repaired. All the dents from the debris had been fixed and the ramp replaced.

Kacey signaled the Major as he came out of the office. He saluted then shook her hand.

"Ready to come back to work, Colonel?" He asked.

"More than ready, Major. The Doc cleared me for desk duty starting Monday. Still no flying yet. But it is a start. I am glad you were able to join us Mike."

"That is great to hear. I have to tell you I hate all that administration stuff you have to do. I am sorry I could not make the launch, but I did watch it on the video screens. I was able to hitch a ride with the Courier Ship one the Doc's cleared me for the mission."

"I heard they were going to dispatch a ship to catch up to us so that you could join the mission. All that administrative stuff is not my favorite part of the job either, but it comes with the heavy hard wear on my collar. Major, I need to see McGwire and Ridgeway."

"Yes ma'am." He took a deep breath and yelled, "McGwire, Ridgeway, front and center."

The sounds of tools dropped echoed through the hanger. The two men emerged from the Stingers they were working on and hurried to where Kacey and the Major stood. They snapped to attention and saluted. Their salutes were returned.

"At ease gentlemen. I have a very special job for the two of you. Get out of those coveralls and into fatigues. Major you will issue them each a phasic rifle and side arm." He nodded. "Your mission gentlemen will be to accompany Natalia Esperanza each and every time she has to talk to Castor while he is in the Brig. You are not to leave her side. Understood?"

"Yes ma'am" they replied.

"Meet me in the mess hall at thirteen fifty hours. Dismissed."

The Marines saluted again then left.

"How are the new people working out?"

"Well Colonel. From the reports I have read, we have five or six that show real promise."

"How about the two joy riders?"

"They are included in that group. Those two can tear apart an engine and put it back together in no time. They know what is wrong just by listening to the engine. Really good mechanics to have on board. They are whiz kids when it come to building electronic gadgets also."

"That is good to hear. Try giving them more responsibility. See how they respond."

"Will do Colonel." The Major stated.

"I had better get to the Mess Hall or I will be in hot water." The Major smiled as Kacey returned his salute and left.


Natalia had her computer opened and was concentrating on the pages in front of her. She did not notice Kacey enter until she was at the table. Natalia hastily shut down the computer before Kacey could see what she was reading.


"Hi yourself. Tell me what were you reading that had you so focused?" Kacey asked

"Just going over my notes again before I see Sergeant Castor. Kate gave her permission. I have to have an armed guard of your choosing with me."

"I know. I talked to Kate also. I have an armed guard chosen. The men will be here shortly."

"And where exactly will you be?"

"No where near the Brig. You have my word." They programmed their choices in the table top menus.

"What did the Doctor say?"

"I can return to desk duty on Monday."

"It is a start. I know how antsy you have been these last couple days."

"What is a start dear?" Patricia asked as she brought their meals and drinks on a cart to their table. She placed their food in front of them. She placed a glass of milk in front of Kacey The look on her face dared her daughter to say something. Kacey only shook her head and sighed. "You can have your coffee when that is gone." She pointed to the glass. "So tell me what is a start?"

"I can return to work Monday. Desk duty only."

"Do you think that is wise dear? How much convincing did that take?"

"None mom. My shoulder and arm are healed enough, although he did say no lifting over twenty pounds. He would not clear me for flying yet."

"That is one good thing at least." Patricia said and walked away.

"After you talk to the Sergeant, then what happens?"

"I get to do some background checks on him, then we can set the date for the trial. I will be going right after lunch. What will you do while I am conducting the interview?"

"Probably work on that new piece of music. See if maybe I can fix what is wrong with it."

"I think it is beautiful. Are you sure there is something wrong with it?"

"It is not that there is any thing wrong with it, but it is not quite right. It does not flow right."

"You are the expert. I can only appreciate the product. You had better drink that, your mother is watching you. If it is any consulation, I do not like that stuff either."

"What ever you do, do not let her hear you say that or she will be shoving it at you every chance she gets."

The Marines arrived and waited for them to finish eating before they approached.

"Natalia, these two Marines will be your armed escort when you go to the Brig. Lieutenants McGwire and Ridgeway. Lieutenants, this is Natalia Esperanza."

"Lieutenants," Natalia greeted them. "Have you had your lunch?"

"Yes ma'am we have. We will wait in the hall until you are ready ma'am." The Marines left the mess hall.

Patricia waited with a steaming cup of coffee for her daughter until she finished the glass of milk. She placed their coffee in front of them and removed their empty plates.

To be continued...

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